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Agenda item

Customer Portal Update

(Report of the Portfolio Holder for Assets and Finance)


The Committee received the Report of the Portfolio Holder for Assets and Finance which updated members on the progress to date in respect of the Customer Portal and Customer Relationship Management system, which was presented by the Assistant Director, People and the Head of Revenues.


The Head of Revenues reported that the Customer Portal was initially due to be in operation in May 2019, however, the Council was notified that the Staffordshire wide CRM system (Lagan) was to be decommissioned by the end of September 2019, and therefore priority was given to implementing the CRM element of the project by the end of September 2019.  It was reported that the Lagan system was decommissioned and replaced with the Civica CRM on 27 September 2019.


The Head of Revenues reported that work had continued on development of the portal alongside the implementation of the CRM and that development of the following three processes was underway with implementation expected by the end of 2019:

·         Moving in moving out

·         Single person discount

·         Safeguarding


The Head of Revenues reported that the development of an online housing applications form would not be developed by Civica but would instead be developed by Orchard as this solution was expected to provide a process which fully integrated into the back office system and the Customer Portal.


Following the appointment of a new Head of Customer Experience it was reported that the Head of Revenues would hand over responsibility for leading the project.


The Committee members sought clarification in the following areas:

·         Accessibility – the Committee sought and received confirmation that notwithstanding the implementation of a digital customer portal, there would remain face to face and telephone channels for customers who preferred to access Council services in this way.

·         Post implementation review – it was planned to have a post implementation review in early 2020 once the implementation of the three processes above had been completed.

·         Business continuity – it was reported that the Council had full business continuity plans across all departments.

·         Testing of the systems – the Committee requested details as to how the new systems were being tested.  The Head of Revenues reported that staff were testing the systems.  The Committee considered that relying on testing by staff only would not necessarily highlight potential flaws in the system as staff would be likely to have a different level of knowledge of the systems from the average customer which could mean that issues would not be identified.  The Committee considered that it would be appropriate to explore the option of making the system available in test mode to customers together with a clear reporting mechanism where any issues identified could be reported to the Council.  It was further reported that we had been liaising with other Councils to understand their experience of implementing the system and any lessons learnt.

·         Budgetary requirements – it was reported that the capital budget of £115,000 had been utilised and that there would be a £18,000 fee annually for support, maintenance and upgrades. There would be further costs which would require further budgetary provision, however, for any additional functionality required.  The Committee considered that it would be important to ensure that the further budgetary requirements were identified and fed into the budget setting process as early as possible to support the continued development of the system. 


Councillor T Jay joined the meeting at 6.30pm and took the Chair for the remainder of the meeting.


·         Timelines – the Committee requested further details on the timelines expected for the roll-out of the rest of the work-streams of the project.  It was reported that, following implementation of the three processes highlighted above, the next areas to be developed and the anticipated timelines were:

Ø  Revenues – for implementation by April 2020

Ø  Online housing application form – for implementation by December 2020

Ø  Benefits – during 2021.

·         Resources – the Committee sought clarification of the resources, including in terms of staff skillsets, available to support the implementation of all the work-streams and received assurances that the skillsets together with appropriate training existed and would be implemented to ensure that there was appropriately skilled resources to support the move into more digital platforms.

·         IT Robustness – with the implementation of more internet based solutions and services, the Committee sought clarification on the penetration testing undertaken.  The Assistant Director, People reported that the Head of Technology and Information Services had responsibility for this area and that penetration testing would extend to the customer portal.

·         Single and High Priority notification – the Committee sought and received confirmation that the system would be designed to simplify the notification process by customers, and allow one simplified notification which would be forwarded to all relevant areas of the Council.  Also, to ensure that high priority / urgent requests were considered first in the work queues.  The Committee suggested utilising a key word search functionality for this. The Head of Revenues agreed to check whether the system would have a key word search functionality. 



that the contents of the report be endorsed;


that the Committee considered that extended testing, involving members of the public, be undertaken in addition to testing by staff members.



(Moved by Councillor M Summers and seconded by Councillor Dr S Peaple)


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